Search results for "archpaper tag adaptive reuse"

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To protect and preserve

Helmut Jahn pitches proposal to save Chicago’s Thompson Center
It’s not every day that the architect of a 35-year-old governmental office building makes a personal plea to save their own work. But Chicago’s exuberantly postmodern James R. Thompson Center, which the State of Illinois state is attempting to sell off with considerable public push-back, is a special case. And Helmut Jahn won’t allow his creation to meet the wrecking ball without a fight, or, at the very least, a detailed plan on how to best reuse it. Dubbed the “postmodern people’s palace," the Thompson Center opened in 1985 on Chicago’s Loop as the State of Illinois Center. The building was renamed in 1993 in honor of former governor James R. Thompson, who commissioned it. Like other postmodern governmental buildings of the era such as Michael Graves’s Portland Building, the 17-floor office complex—a “slice of a hollow sphere, clad in curved blue glass and salmon-colored steel” per the Chicago Center for Architecture, with an intensely photogenic central atrium to boot—is the type of building that critics and the public love and love to hate. In a major American city with countless iconic buildings spanning different eras, the Thompson Center still, for better or worse, sticks out. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is intent on selling the Thompson Center and the full-block parcel that the building sits on as part of a three-year quest to find a buyer. Moving state offices out of the building could save an estimated $17 million annually while avoiding deferred maintenance costs totaling roughly $320 million. The administration of Pritzker’s predecessor, Governor Bruce Rauner, estimated that the Thompson Center could fetch as much as $200 million, but less if a potential buyer was blocked from razing the building and developing something new in its place. Jahn, however, has a different idea: Keep the building as is, with some significant alterations that don’t detract from the center’s populist character, and readapt it to accommodate new offices, a hotel, and even co-living apartments. Most dramatically, Jahn’s 10-page reuse plan, “Thompson Center: Inside Out,” calls for removing the building’s front doors and transforming the atrium into a sheltered outdoor space. He refers to the refreshed, repurposed building as “something new with a space that doesn’t belong to the state of Illinois but to the people of Chicago.” Jahn elaborated in his proposal:
“I propose the doors come down, so the atrium becomes a public place with upgraded retail and restaurants. The lower floors, with up to 60,000 square feet, flexible tech-offices. Above, a hotel and co-living apartments with terraces facing the atrium. These terraces and those along the curved south side are greened with trees and climbing vines, which will grow well in this protected in-outside environment. The façade and the environmental systems will be tuned to work together and use the sun as an energy source.”
In addition to detailing his vision for a reimagined Thompson Center, Jahn warns of the negative impact that could stem from demolishing the building and redeveloping the site. “What we got for 175 million dollars in 1984 can become the heart in the now degrading central loop,” he wrote. “A demolition and replacement would not only take a long time but seeks high density without considering public benefits. We need not more bigger buildings but buildings which improve the public space.” Jahn added that:
“Governor Pritzker has the opportunity, after years of neglect by his predecessors, to lead thru the sale of the Thompson Center by giving it new life. Repurposing the building the right way could go beyond what the building ever was, making it better, more public and a place where you want to work, stay overnight, live or just visit and feel good. Miracles and dreams can become real.”
As for Governor Pritzker, it would appear that his administration cannot be so easily swayed by the miracles and dreams of a visionary German-born, Chicago-based architect. “The governor is committed to selling the Thompson Center to provide the best value to taxpayers,” Pritzker’s office told the Sun Times in a statement. “For the state’s purposes, the facility is larger than necessary, and the Department of Central Management Services is working expeditiously to identify a developer by the end of the year.” The Thompson Center’s endangered status isn’t new. Proposals to sell the building have been kicking around since the administration of former Governor Rod Blagojevich, who held office from 2003 to 2009 before he was impeached, convicted, and removed on corruption charges (and then pardoned). Preservationists have long rallied to save the idiosyncratic building, which is currently home to the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Court of Claims, and other state entities. Most recently, it appeared (once again) on Chicago Preservation's annual "Chicago 7" Most Endangered Buildings List.
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When They Go High, We Go Low

Manhattan’s subterranean Lowline park flatlines
Manhattan’s Lowline, a planned underground park project that stretched the concept of adaptive reuse to exciting and seemingly impossible new extremes, is no more. As first reported by Crain’s, funding for the estimated $83 million subterranean green space that would have been tucked deep beneath the Lower East Side within the long-abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal has essentially dried up. This has forced the project to go “into dormancy” as Signe Nielsen, a landscape architect and member of the Lowline’s board of directors, explained to Crain’s. “We were unable to meet all of the benchmarks that were required, one of the most significant of which was to raise a substantial amount of money.” The Underground Development Foundation, the park’s nonprofit fundraising arm, launched two successful Kickstarter campaigns during the park’s early years, raising $150,000 in 2015 and $223,506 in 2015. As Crain’s notes, $3.7 million had been secured by the nonprofit after the project’s attention-grabbing launch in 2011—the same year that the second section of the High Line, a project that also famously harnesses New York City’s dormant transport infrastructure, opened to enormous fanfare on Manhattan’s far West Side. But public filings show that by the end of 2017, the nonprofit possessed little under $10,000 in funding. In 2016, the year that the Lowline received the formal green light from the city to proceed with the ambitious project, the foundation had $815,287 on hand. Obviously, such a visionary undertaking—one that involved reimagining a derelict subterranean space and employing emerging solar technology to reactivate it as a lush, community-centric park—came with a steep price tag. Regardless of fundraising struggles, the Lowline, which would have been New York City’s first underground park, was still slated for a 2021 opening as of last year. In a prescient 2016 interview with Fast Company, former Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen noted there was a chance that the Lowline would never be fully realized, going on to say that such a risk was ultimately positive. “This is all upside,” she said at the time. “There’s a chance to take the unbelievable advances in technology and the creative spirit of New York and harness it to create a public space that no one could have imagined.” Speaking with AN, Lowline co-founder Dan Barasch mirrored Glen's earlier sentiments on the benefits of risk-taking while also suggesting that the Lowline is, in fact, “not over” despite the current absence of a fundraising-driven pulse first reported by Crain's. “It's going to get done,” Barasch said, going on to explain that the team is open to exploring other hidden spaces in New York and beyond that are ripe for rediscovery and reactivation. And the Lowline's current home on the Lower East Side certainly isn't out of the question for future work. Barasch expressed his frustration with the de Blasio administration and the “fundamental lack of public funding” for bold, risk-taking projects like the Lowline. Barasch mentioned a greenery-filled underground park in Seoul that's quite similar to the Lowline but benefited from greater public support from the city's government. “This was a project that always needed the city to be behind it,” he said. “We're going to wait for an administration that has the imagination and capital that a project like this requires.” While the Lowline may never see the light of day under the current mayoral administration, this isn’t to say that it failed to provide the curious public with a taste of what was (supposed to) come. From October 2015 through February 2017, the Lowline team operated the Lowline Lab, a non-subterranean space described as a “long-term open laboratory and technical exhibit designed to test and showcase how the Lowline will grow and sustain plants underground.” Free and open to the public during the weekends, the Lowline Lab welcomed 100,000 visitors over the course of its existence. The lab was housed in what was once part of Essex Street Market, and is now the Essex Crossing mega-development. The idea for a public space that made use of the old Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal was first conceived as the Delancy Underground by Barasch and James Ramsey in 2009. When the Lowline launched two years later, the duo envisioned it as an obvious inverse of the wildly popular—but controversial—elevated High Line. It would, however, ultimately been an entirely different, more futuristic creature. At 1.5 acres compared to the High Line’s 6.7 acres, the Lowline would have placed a greater emphasis on innovation and technology as well as on fostering community engagement.
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Scoring renovation gold

Montreal's iconic Olympic Tower reborn as office complex
The second lives of observation towers built for the Olympics run the gamut from rock ‘n’ roll museums to rappelling venues to rather straightforward radio and television transmitters. Yet Montreal’s Olympic Tower, perhaps the most famous of these soaring edifices even though it wasn't finally completed until a full decade after the 1976 Summer Olympics, hasn’t really had a productive afterlife—until now. Thanks to Quebecois financial services giant Desjardins, a new purpose has at long last been bestowed on the precast-concrete landmark that looms precariously over Parc Olympique. Working closely with Desjardins, the multidisciplinary Montreal-based Provencher_Roy painstakingly converted seven of the tower’s 12 unoccupied floors into new office space that will serve as call and administrative centers for the bank over the next 15 years. In total, the renovation, which kicked off in 2018, encompasses 150,000 square feet, roughly 80 percent of the tower’s rentable space. It includes an auditorium, a trio of lounges, a 400-seat dining room, a wellness center, 25 “collaborative living rooms,” a half-dozen coffee bars, and enough open workspace to accommodate 1,400 employees. The top of the tallest inclined tower in the world, at 541 feet, has long been home to a popular observatory that’s accessible to the public via a glass-encased funicular; however, the rest of the interior space within the tilting, Roger Taillibert-designed structure has remained mostly empty. Desjardins is now the first (and only) major tenant to occupy it in over 30 years. That’s big news when considering that the stadium complex at Parc Olympique—tower included—is regarded by many as a particularly egregious white elephant despite its architectural significance. Often referred to as the “Big O” (or more commonly among locals as the “Big Owe” in reference to its exorbitant cost of over $1.1 billion), Montreal’s doughnut-shaped Olympic Stadium is the largest stadium in Canada by seating capacity with room for 56,000 patrons but has experienced woefully little post-Olympics activity. Lacking a full-time tenant since the Expos decamped in 2004, the venue has been plagued by a long list of structural issues and costly setbacks. While most criticism has been lobbed at the roof-cursed coliseum, the fact that its adjacent tower has sat unoccupied since 1987 has only soured the view of this somewhat damaging Olympics leftover. The renovation of the Olympic Tower, recently rechristened as the Montreal Tower,  is a major step in a positive new direction. The most significant aspect of the overhaul involved removing a bulk of the tower’s prefabricated concrete panels and been replacing them with an all-glass curtain wall that encases 60 percent of the building’s facade. Per a press release, this dramatic undertaking was the single “biggest challenge” in transforming the “mythical” structure, and was essential in “creating a pleasant work environment.” Antiquated mechanical systems were also replaced and brought up to code as part of the renovation. Throughout the process, Provencher_Roy was mindful not to erase the tower’s important place in Montreal history. Tributes to the building's Olympic legacy are distributed throughout the light-strewn interior, most in the form of sporty murals. “It was a privilege to work on such an exceptional site that represents so much in the collective imagination,” said Julien-Pierre Laurendeau, an interior designer at Provencher_Roy. “Our design strategy has been to showcase the spectacular architectural character of the Montreal Tower, still imbued with the Olympic spirit. Interior design encourages collaboration and sharing of knowledge in a healthy environment, as well as drawing a parallel with the values of Desjardins.” Montreal’s Olympic Stadium will likely never live down its reputation as one of North America’s most notorious white elephants. But the tower that bends directly over it can now bask in its newfound status as an example of smart, site-sensitive reinvention and reuse.
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Concrete Dystopia

Massachusetts considers partial- to-full removal of Paul Rudolph’s Hurley Building
The future of the Paul Rudolph-designed Boston Government Service Center (BGSC) rests in the hands of the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Last October, the state announced the redevelopment of the Charles F. Hurley Building and this week, a new report was sent to the commission detailing four options for the Brutalist structure in downtown Boston that include partial or full demolition. Produced under the auspices of the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, the document is the result of deep dive by engineers and architects into the Hurley Building and its notoriously challenging interior layout. The first option explores removing a small part of the 237,000-square-foot structure to make way for a new, high-rise construction. A pedestrian-level walkway would splice throughout the site in an effort to open up the complex to the street. Each of the other options considers demolishing half, two-thirds, and eventually the entire building for the contemporary tower, respectively, with added urban design elements thrown into the mix.  In the coming months, the Massachusetts Historical Commission will either green light or scrap these options. If one or several are seriously considered, it could help bidding developers make more informed decisions about their individual plans for the 3.25-acre site. AN previously reported that solicitations for a development partner are expected to be issued by mid-2020 and that construction slated to begin within three years. The state is also making moves to relocate the various agencies and 675 government employees within the Hurley Building ahead of future work. Part of the allure for preservationists lies in the fact that it’s a Paul Rudolph design. Located just yards away from the 50-year-old Boston City Hall designed by Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles—which is currently undergoing a five-year-renovation, the Hurley Building and the rest of the complex further connect locals to Rudolph’s legacy of Brutalism in the city. One group, the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, believes the report didn’t fully acknowledge the fact that Rudolph designed the building from 1962 to 1966, which could hurt its case in the eyes of the historical commission. “They fully note the importance of his design guidelines for the project, and his direct work on the other [Lindemann] building—but are weaker on acknowledging the intensity of his influence on the design of the Hurley Building,” the foundation stated in a press release on its website.  This debate has been going on for quite some time and it’s unclear just how serious the state will take preservation. What is clear is that Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker prefers to completely redevelop the site with little focus on adaptive reuse. 
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The big apple

John Cetra of CetraRuddy talks recent projects and Facades+ New York
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On April 2 and 3, Facades+ is returning to New York for its largest annual conference, which is split between a full-day symposium followed by the second day of intensive hands-on workshops led by dozens from across the country. Co-chair John Cetra, founding principal of New York-based practice CetraRuddy, collaborated with The Architect's Newspaper in the curation of panels themes and speakers. Panels include; “Materiality & Fabrication: Bespoke Facade Solutions,” “Scaling up Passive House | For the Greater Good,” “Optimizing the Form,” and “Adaptive Reuse Challenges in NYC Historic Icons.” UNStudio founding principal Ben van Berkel and WXY principal-in-charge Claire Weisz are leading the morning and afternoon keynotes, and Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto of Reiser + Umemoto will dive into their spate of recently completed projects. Prior to the conference, AN sat down with Cetra to discuss architectural trends reshaping New York City and the firm’s recent body of work. AN: Over the last thirty years, CetraRuddy has successfully navigated New York's real estate landscape to deliver scores of projects across building scales. What lessons have been learned and what advice would you give young firms today? John Cetra: We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the past 30 years. One of the most salient is that to successfully navigate the New York real estate landscape, architects need to understand the unique context we have to work in and in particular, the zoning resolution and its nuances. In our practice, an advanced understanding of the requirements has allowed us to create unique buildings forms like One Madison and ARO. This applies across the board, whether in contextual zones, landmarked districts, or not. We value context and history, but we are also open and receptive to new thinking, and we like to weave the two together through design. At Fotografiska, we created a new multi-use event space on the top floor of an 1890s-era building by exposing the structural beams holding up the roof. This is an entirely new space—but it celebrates the original materiality and design of the building in a very respectful way. One of the panels will include your recently completed ARO. Can you explain the significance of the project from the perspective of facade design and engineering? ARO’s facade is crucial to its design—it enhances and clarifies the building’s massing, and works in harmony with the tower’s shape. The signature fenestration pattern is comprised of a glass curtain wall with a light metal net that creates a singular graphic overlay or a ‘second skin.’ This net employs 18-inch-deep “fenders" that act as an integrated solar device, reflecting light as the glass areas absorb light. In this way, the sun is a friend of this building—the sky is reflected in its glass and the metal fenders protect the interiors from sunlight at high angles. As the light changes throughout the day, the articulation of the facade creates depth and visual interest, responding to the time of day and weather. From a technical perspective, the unitized curtain wall system required the design team to minimize the number of custom panel sizes and conditions. Even though the massing undulates and projects forward in cantilevered sections, there are only six different shapes and unit sizes that made up the entire facade. You worked closely with AN to co-curate the upcoming conference. What do you hope will be the primary takeaways of the conference? I think the conference will show that there are no set, universal rules, and that building facades can be of very high quality because of the tools we as architects and designers have at our disposal. Digital technology combined with architectural creativity, a thoughtful understanding of context, and understanding of program can result in beautiful buildings that are sustainable, a pleasure to live or work in, and thoughtful additions to our built environment. Additionally, in terms of contextuality, façade design can successfully contribute and respond to the local built environment. The technology exists now to create site-specific, context-aware facade solutions that are also really attractive and, most importantly, climate-responsive. This is a heartening advance that will be discussed in detail at the upcoming conference. Further information regarding Facades+ New York can be found here.
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Free Victoria Parking

Shin Shin imagines radical redevelopment of abandoned Detroit homes
The economic decline of Detroit in the second half of the 20th century is a familiar one in American history. The Motor City dramatically fell from a population of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 680,000 in 2015, resulting in an unprecedented exodus of its central historic districts. The Virginia Park district, a neighborhood lined with abandoned turn-of-the-century mansions, soon became a destination for out-of-town photographers eager to capture the ‘ruins’ as physical proof of abandonment with little interest in how the city can move on from the troubles of its recent past. Shin Shin, an architecture firm founded in 2018 by Detroit-born sisters Melissa and Amanda Shin, recently opened an exhibition at Woodbury University in Burbank, California, that offers a bold solution for the city’s historic homes through a novel form of adaptive reuse. Titled Four Corners, the exhibition dives deeply into No Vacancy, a series of redevelopment scenarios applied to a typical Virginia Park mansion. Each scenario programmatically divides the home in half, leaving the top floor as a modestly-sized private residence while transforming the bottom floor into a commercial space that generates income and provides much-needed amenities for building community. The four different family types—the bachelor or young couple, the single-parent, the nuclear family, and the empty nester—are coupled with a complementary commercial program, creative service spaces, an outdoor theater, a recreation center, and a garden cafe, respectively. Because the clash between the public and private may seem outlandish at first, the exhibition goes to great lengths to demonstrate the viability of their proposals through scaled-up construction drawings and highly detailed 3D-printed models. The models, in particular, draw the eye to the more playful aspects of each design, including silly straw-like columns, rock climbing facades, and overinflated acoustical padding. While the firm currently has no plans to make their vision a reality in their native city, they hope to come up with other, like-minded proposals to guide Detroit through its current era of revitalization and growth. Four Corners will be on display until March 6.
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Top of the Crop

Here are the 2020 U.S. WoodWorks Wood Design Awards winners

Jury’s Choice

This year's jury consisted of:

Danny Adams, Principal, LS3P Associates Marsha Maytum, Principal, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects Eric McDonnell, Principal, Holmes Structures Matt Shaw, Contributing Editor, The Architect’s Newspaper

Project: First Tech Federal Credit Union Location: Hillsboro, Oregon Architect: Hacker Structural Engineer: Kramer Gehlen & Associates Contractor: Swinerton Builders First Tech Federal Credit Union’s motto is People First—and its new Oregon campus is designed to support and promote the health, comfort, and happiness of employees. Open offices are designed with an emphasis on equal access to natural light and views, and work stations are arranged to ensure that all employees can benefit from biophilic opportunities. Much of the building’s design draws on the beauty of the wood structural system, which is visible throughout the building. Glulam columns and beams frame floor-to-ceiling views to the park and the creek that surrounds the site on three sides. Raised floors conceal HVAC, electrical, and low-voltage systems, contributing to clear, uncluttered spaces that showcase the simple beauty of the cross-laminated timber ceilings. On the ground floor, a central commons with stadium-style seating ascends into a double-height atrium capable of accommodating large gatherings and presentations. LEED Gold-certified, the building achieved an exemplary score in the regional materials category as all of the columns, beams, and CLT panels were sourced and refined within 500 miles of the site. 156,000 square feet / Type III-A construction

Multi-Family Wood Design

Project: Adohi Hall Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas Architect: Leers Weinzapfel Associates; modus studio (AOR); Mackey Mitchell Architects Structural Engineer: Equilibrium ConsultingEngineering Consultants, Inc. Contractor: Nabholz Construction Adohi Hall at the University of Arkansas is the nation’s first large-scale mass timber student housing facility. A bold demonstration of sustainability, the 708-bed complex includes three main volumes, linked together to create a serpentine form set into a sloped site. Buildings A and B include five stories of mass timber—a cross-laminated timber floor and ceiling system supported by glulam columns and beams—over a concrete podium and partial basement. Building C is a one-story volume linking the two residential buildings. Maintaining acoustical separation was a significant issue. To expose the CLT ceilings, acoustical treatment was concentrated on top of the panels. To minimize the depth of the panel topping, and thus the floor-to-floor height, the team used an ultra-thin sound attenuation mat topped with less than 2 inches of heavyweight gypcrete and luxury vinyl tile planks—which surpassed the required STC rating of 50 between sleeping quarters. The use of wood both structurally and aesthetically makes this project a groundbreaking example of student housing design. 202,000 square feet / Type III-B construction

Commercial Mid-Rise

Project: 111 East Grand Location: Des Moines, Iowa Architect: Neumann Monson Architects Structural Engineer: Raker Rhodes Engineering, StructureCraft Contractor: Ryan Companies Anchoring a high-visibility site in Des Moines’ historic East Village, 111 East Grand includes three stories of offices above retail and restaurant spaces on the ground floor. It is the first multi-story office building to include floor and roof decks made from dowel-laminated timber. The DLT panels are supported by glulam post-and-beam framing, and the building is buttressed by a concrete core on the south face for lateral stability. Leveraging a unique benefit of mass timber, much of the structure is left exposed on the interior. This minimizes the need for tenant improvement while providing visual, tactile, and olfactive stimulation to the building’s occupants. Operable windows allow natural ventilation, and balconies on the west provide downtown views. The project is innovative in both design and delivery. From the outset, the core design team of architect and structural engineer collaborated closely with the mass timber engineers and general contractor. This enabled 111 East Grand to push boundaries and convey the accessibility of mass timber building design through its ultimate success. 66,000 square feet / Type III-B construction

Commercial Low-Rise

Project: Redfox Commons Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: LEVER Architecture Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers Contractor: R&H Construction This adaptive reuse project transforms a pair of World War II-era warehouses into a light-filled campus for creative office tenants. Recognizing the historic and environmental significance of the existing wood structures, the renovation preserves and restores the original lumber. The trusses were sandblasted and remain exposed, highlighting the wood’s natural beauty. New 80-foot-wide clerestory windows were added to each roof to bring light into the large open floor plates, which are distinguished by column-free spans of 100 feet. To uphold the project’s heritage, both buildings were rebuilt using an industrial vernacular of ribbon windows and weathering steel cladding. During demolition, wood from an overbuilt mezzanine was salvaged to create a new timber and glass entrance structure that connects the two buildings. Over 6,500 linear feet of 4-by-12-inch boards were reclaimed, varying in length from 12 to 24 feet. The boards were fastened around new glulam members using large wood screws to create distinctive columns and beams. This innovative use of wood creates a welcoming entry that is expressive of both the project’s heritage and environmentally-conscious design. 60,000 square feet / Type III-B construction

Wood in Government Buildings

Project: Long Beach Civic Center⁠—Billie Jean King Main Library Location: Long Beach, California Architect: SOM ǀ Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Structural Engineer: SOM ǀ Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Contractor: Clark Construction Installer: WS Klem Located adjacent to historic Lincoln Park, the Billie Jean King Main Library provides a welcoming and flexible environment, with interior space organized into discrete and identifiable areas that maximize the use of square footage while enhancing accessibility. Built over an existing parking structure, the hybrid building includes an exposed glulam roof system over steel framing. It offers a variety of spaces, including group study rooms, independent study areas, a technology-driven makerspace, community center, and large central atrium that provides abundant natural light. Targeting LEED certification, the building also features rooftop photovoltaic cells, daylighting strategies, controlled air ventilation systems, and extensive glazing with architectural overhangs for solar protection.  The library is part of the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan, designed by SOM to revitalize 22 acres of downtown Long Beach by creating a vibrant, mixed-use district. 96,000 square feet / Type IV construction

Wood in Schools

Project: Arts and Technology Academy Location: Eugene, Oregon Architect: Opsis Architecture; Rowell Brokaw Architects (AOR) Structural Engineer: catena consulting engineers Contractor: Hyland Construction As a teaching tool for middle school students to explore and learn about the interaction between the natural and built world, the Arts and Technology Academy’s honest and tectonic expression of structure, exposed building systems, natural materials, and daylighting create a physical environment conducive to a STE(A)M-centric curriculum. An iconic, umbrella-like folding roof comprised of steel frames, glulam beams, and wood decking—all left exposed—stretches across the length of the building above continuous clerestory windows. Appearing to float, it cantilevers in various locations, offering protection from the elements while creating a warm and inviting interior environment. Various sloped roof profiles pay homage to the surrounding residential vernacular while visually bridging the scale of the project’s two-story massing and surrounding one-story homes. An expansive photovoltaic array adorns the south-facing roof. Ample exterior glazing maximizes daylight and views during the day while serving as a warmly-lit community beacon at night. 95,718 square feet / Type IIIB construction

Institutional

Project: Oregon Conservation Center Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: LEVER Architecture Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers Contractor: Lease Crutcher Lewis A blend of mass timber and light wood-frame construction, this renovation and expansion of The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters transforms a dated office building into a collaborative hub that reflects the environmental mission of its owner. Central to the upgrade is the addition of a 2,000-square-foot ground-level pavilion that serves as a gathering space for public events and collaborations. The building achieved LEED Gold certification, with features that include domestically-fabricated and FSC-certified cross-laminated timber panels, rooftop photovoltaics that produce 25 percent of the building’s electrical supply, efficient building systems and fixtures that reduce electricity consumption by 54 percent and water consumption by 44 percent, and a landscaping and subsurface filtration system to manage stormwater. Abundant daylighting, operable windows, and the use of local materials enhance comfort and connect occupants to the neighborhood and greater region. 15,000 square feet / Type VB construction

Green Building with Wood

Project: Oregon Zoo Education Center Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: Opsis Architecture; Jones and Jones (zoo design; insect zoo architect) Structural Engineer: catena consulting engineers Contractor: Fortis Construction Guided by the Zoo’s central theme, Small Things Matter, the design of this LEED Platinum-certified Education Center brings together a number of architectural and exhibition elements to create teachable, sustainable moments. Built with a combination of heavy timber, light wood framing, and steel, the two single-story buildings are inspired by the circular, woven nature of a bird’s nest; the resulting architecture creates an intertwined relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces that blends into the zoo’s landscape and exhibits. The sweeping cantilevered glulam entry roof and cedar-clad exterior draw visitors into the lobby’s interactive displays, insect exhibit, and event space. Sustainable design strategies include an expansive rooftop photovoltaic array, rain gardens with 90 species of native plants that provide wildlife habitat while cleaning stormwater for reuse, bird-friendly lighting, and fritted glass windows. The Center is expected to achieve net-zero energy certification. 20,000 square feet / Type V-B construction

Beauty of Wood

Project: Trailhead Building at Theodore Wirth Park Location: Minneapolis, ‎Minnesota Architect: HGA Structural Engineer: HGA Contractor: Kalcon A gateway to the Nordic ski and mountain bike trails of the Minneapolis Parks System, the trailhead building is used extensively by the public and area high schools for training and competitive meets. The highlight is an innovative mass timber roof that cantilevers in two orthogonal directions, tapers to a point at its tip, and is fully exposed on the interior. Glulam girders cantilever from 10 to 25 feet, following the trapezoidal shape of the roof, and are supported in part by a colonnade of Douglas-fir glulam columns and wood-frame walls. The unique roof and colonnade provide an elegant entry, while exposed wood on the interior creates a natural connection between gathering spaces and the outdoors. While embracing its surroundings with the use of mass timber, this building has also been embraced by its community. It was chosen as a hosting facility for the 2020 Cross Country Ski World Cup. 14,200 square feet / Type V-A construction

Adaptable and Durable Wood Structures

Project: Julia Morgan Hall Location: Berkeley, California Architect: Siegel & Strain Architects Structural Engineer: Bluestone Engineering Contractor: James R. Griffin Built in 1911, this Senior Women’s Hall at UC Berkeley is an elegant redwood bungalow with exposed wall and roof framing and a natural-finish interior. The building served as a gathering place for female students until 1969, when it was converted into a childcare center. First relocated in 1946, it was moved again in 2014—to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden. To extricate the structure from its site and negotiate a winding road with overhanging trees, the building was divided into four segments, which were reassembled at the Garden, rehabilitated, and upgraded to meet current accessibility standards. All of the work—including cutting, installation, subsequent removal of temporary shoring and protection, and reassembly—had to be carefully executed to avoid damage. The exposed interior wood components required only minimal staining to conceal wear and tear, while the rich wood floors were refinished. The redwood siding was replaced as required and painted, and the team added a new wood porch. 2,255 square feet / Type V-B construction

Regional Excellence Awards

Project: 901 East Sixth Location: Austin, Texas Architect: TB/DS (Thoughtbarn/Delineate Studio) Structural Engineer: Leap!Structures Contractor: DCA Construction A design goal for this five-story office building was to make it seem at home in the creative, light industrial neighborhood of East Side Austin.  The structure is a hybrid of exposed cross-laminated timber floor and ceiling systems, and exposed steel—and is the first of its kind in Texas. It is clad in Corten steel, which forms a stable, rust-like appearance over time. A double-height lobby with a 25-foot bi-fold door allows the space to be opened to the street during special events; it also serves as a showcase for the exposed wood ceiling and full-height feature wall made from CLT off-cuts. 901 East Sixth achieved LEED Gold certification and was fully leased before construction was complete—at rates significantly exceeding the original pro forma. The project has been a celebrated financial success for its developers while receiving an enthusiastic reception from the public. 128,000 square feet / Type III-A construction Project: CoǀLab Location: Falls Church, Virginia Architect: William McDonough + Partners MEP Engineer: Staengl Engineering Contractor: HITT Contracting This unique project is intended to serve as a nucleus for research and testing of emerging technologies, products, and practices that will transform the construction industry. HITT Contracting envisioned Co|Lab as a showcase for building innovation that would utilize as many healthy materials as possible and exhibit smart emerging design and construction technologies. The mass timber structure—which includes cross-laminated timber walls and ceilings supported by glulam columns and beams—was chosen for its aesthetic, multi-sensory characteristics, light carbon footprint, and speed of construction. The design is based on cradle-to-cradle principles; instead of minimizing the building’s negative environmental footprint, the team wanted a beneficial footprint. Co|Lab is LEED Platinum-certified, and HITT is pursuing both Net Zero Energy and Petal certification. It was the first CLT structure in Virginia and the first commercial mass timber building in metropolitan DC. 8,650 square feet / Type V-B construction Project: The Continuum Location: Lake City, South Carolina Architect: McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture Structural Engineer: Britt Peters & Associates Contractor: Thompson Turner Construction The Continuum is an innovative campus serving college, continuing education, and high school students in northeast South Carolina. After exploring options, the design team chose to renovate an existing big-box retail shell adjacent to downtown Lake City—but they added a unique structural solution. The roof of the central corridor was replaced with a large mass timber structure. Comprised of glulam columns and beams and nail-laminated timber decking, the addition allows daylight to penetrate to the center of the former retail floor. From the site plan and exterior façade to the interior finishes, the design is inspired by the imagery of the region’s deconstructed barns. As visitors approach the plaza, the view down the road reaches a reflection pool that runs under an extended overhang of the soaring NLT deck and into a green space intended for art installations. By strategically dividing and removing some of the existing structure with the glulam clerestory, the design creates circulation spaces flooded with light that invite students to gather. Linked by these open spaces, the building incorporates multiple educational functions into one cohesive floor plan. 46,592 square feet / Type IV construction Project: MFAH Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation Location: Houston, Texas Architect: LakeǀFlato Architects; Kendall/Heaton Architects (AOR) Structural Engineer: Cardno Haynes Whaley Contractor: WS Bellows Wood Structure & Engineering Consultant: StructureCraft Builders Art conservation facilities tend to be thought of as sterile laboratory spaces, but that isn’t true of this one. From the outset, the design team wanted to incorporate natural biophilic materials, specifically wood, to provide an appropriate warmth and texture to the laboratory environment. This hybrid project includes glulam columns and beams and dowel-laminated timber roof panels, as well as steel structural elements. The DLT roof is left exposed, offering a welcome contrast to the wall finishes that are necessarily neutral. The overall result blends the science and art of conservation to create spaces that perform superbly to their technical requirements while offering a warm and welcoming work environment for the art conservators. 30,000 square feet / Type IV construction Project: DPR Office Location: Sacramento, California Architect: SmithGroup Structural Engineer: Buehler Engineering Contractor: DPR Construction When DPR Construction decided to relocate its office to downtown Sacramento, it was seeking to connect with the community it serves on a deeper level. In choosing mass timber, it also saw an opportunity to give employees the benefits of a biophilic design and enhance their workday experience. The project, which involved adding a second story to a 1940s-era concrete and masonry building, includes cross-laminated timber roof and wall panels, and glulam columns and beams. Among its unique features, the building includes CLT shear walls, a first in California. It also exceeds regulatory requirements, targeting net-positive energy—which reduces its carbon footprint from the standpoint of operations and maintenance. The use of mass timber augments this goal by reducing embodied carbon and acting as a carbon sink. This is DPR’s sixth net-zero energy office, and the firm is seeking LEED Platinum, Petal, and WELL Building certifications. 34,508 square feet / Type V-B construction Project: Pike Place Marketfront Location: Seattle, Washington Architect: The Miller Hull Partnership Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates Contractor: Sellen Construction Pike Place MarketFront adds 50 vendor stalls; 40 low-income and senior apartments; commercial, retail and office space; a public roof terrace and walkways; and 300 underground parking spaces to the Pike Place Market Historic District in Seattle. Comprised primarily of heavy timber, light wood framing, and cast-in-place concrete, the project draws contextual inspiration from the simple utilitarian character of the existing market. This historic precedent, combined with timber’s carbon-negative footprint, abundant local sourcing, and speed of erection, made it an easy choice for the project team. While timber is typically used to support gravity loads, the structural engineer designed composite timber and steel framing members to manage portions of the building’s lateral loads. Enclosed by a timber-frame glazing system, the monumental structure includes a vibrant hall housing retail and restaurant spaces while preserving historic views of Puget Sound. Heavy timber columns, beams, and decking serve as both structure and finish, bringing the natural beauty of wood to the space. 210,000 square feet / Type IV construction Project: Rhode Island School of Design – North Hall Location:  Providence, Rhode Island Architect: NADAAA Structural Engineer: Odeh Engineers Contractor: Shawmut Design and Construction For this six-story residence hall at RISD, the design team chose a hybrid system of cross-laminated timber floor and ceiling panels supported by steel framing to achieve goals that included beautiful design, environmental sustainability, and an aggressive construction schedule. Exposed CLT ceilings add beauty while echoing themes of sustainability that students experience as part of the school’s curriculum. In addition to reducing the project’s carbon footprint through the use of CLT, the new hall is expected to use a quarter less energy and less than half the water of a typical residential structure of similar size. The system also provided a schedule advantage. Working closely with the fabricator, the team optimized the layout of panels to minimize erection time. Five-ply panels were manufactured in 8-by-50-foot spans—allowing a single panel to span the building’s width. The erector exceeded expectations by completing the superstructure in less than three weeks. By prioritizing innovation and working to achieve a shared vision, the RISD project team successfully brought the first hybrid CLT-steel residence hall in New England to life. 40,790 square feet / Type III-B construction Project: Sideyard Location: Portland, Oregon Architect: Skylab Structural Engineer: catena consulting engineers Contractor: Andersen Construction Photos: Stephen Miller When the City of Portland built a new one-way couplet connecting to the Burnside Bridge, it created a leftover berm space that is now home to Sideyard. Shaped like a wedge, this five-story project prioritizes access to public transportation, bicycle access, and pedestrian openness. It includes retail and restaurant space at street level, additional retail on the second floor, and office space above. The structure includes a cross-laminated timber floor and roof system supported by a glulam post-and-beam frame, with concrete lateral cores. Sideyard is part of the new Central  Eastside community envisioned in the Burnside Bridgehead Framework Plan, designed to strengthen the connectivity of the area with the Westside downtown core. Its use of locally-sourced materials showcases Oregon wood species in a truly unique fashion. 23,202 square feet / Type III-A construction Project: Tre Søstre Location: Grand Marais, MMinnesota Architect: Salmela Architect Structural Engineer: Meyer Borgman Johnson Contractor: Taiga Design + Build Tre Søstre is located in a former fishing village, close to the shore of Lake Superior. Two decades ago, the owners purchased the abandoned property, converted three severely damaged buildings into rental units, and built a heavy timber “boathouse” as their own live/work space. They recently added three units—designed to make a bold statement while remaining sensitive to the scale and materials of the neighborhood. Despite modest footprints, the structures include multiple cantilevered volumes and decks, a strategy inspired by Scandinavian farm buildings. Each unit has a covered entry deck located above grade. Interior stairs lead down to ground-level and up to second-floor bedrooms. The top floors cantilever to the east, creating an open living space with unobstructed views while providing cover for the patios and decks off the bedrooms below. Spatial adjacencies were carefully considered to provide areas of protected privacy and open gathering within a relatively dense cluster of units. 3,440 square feet / Type V-B construction
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At the moment

A new contemporary art space in Arkansas will open in a former Kraft cheese factory
The Momentary, the downtown contemporary art satellite of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, will open on February 22 in a former Kraft cheese factory. The adaptive reuse design by Wheeler Kearns Architects maintains much of the original 63,000-square-foot brick masonry building Kraft occupied from 1947 until 2013 (from 1913 to 1947, Eagle Flour Mill controlled the site). Additional spaces for art exhibitions, performances, events, and dining have been added that use contemporary materials to contrast with the existing industrial architecture of the building. The Momentary follows in a long line of converting decommissioned industrial spaces into experimental art museum outposts, including MoMA PS1 in New York and MASS MoCA in Western Massachusetts.  “In addition to being a sustainable building method, adaptive reuse serves as a living history much like contemporary art itself,” said Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary, in a press release. “The Momentary will be an intersection of art and everyday life; perhaps some of the original elements and industrial fixtures will inspire artists and the communities to think about their own evolution and this moment in time.” The inaugural exhibition, State of the Art 2020, will be free and open to the public from Feb 22 to May 24.  Gallery and performance spaces’ names allude to their former use such as a Fermentation Hall, Hydration Column, and Boiler Room. The biggest addition, the Tower, is a 70-foot-tall space that will host art and performances as well as a top-floor bar. The outdoor green space, designed by Howell & Vancuren Landscape Architects of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will feature a 50-foot-tall canopy made by the Japanese company Taiyo.  If it seems unlikely that a small town in Arkansas with a population of 50,000 would open two monumental art museums in less than ten years, it should be kept in mind that Bentonville is also the home of Walmart—the original Walton’s Five and Dime is preserved there as a museum, and the Walmart headquarters in Bentonville employs around 15,000. Walmart and The Walton Family, one the country’s richest, are the main financiers and founders of both the Crystal Bridges Museum and the Momentary, as well as many other projects around the town.
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NEW SPACES, NEW MEXICO

Nonprofit Vital Spaces converts Santa Fe's empty buildings into art spaces
Vital Spaces, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico is dedicated to the adaptive reuse of local vacant buildings into spaces for art events, exhibitions, and studios. Local real estate investor Jonathan Boyd was inspired to establish Vital Spaces after observing the city's overwhelming number of empty spaces, high rent, and underrepresentation of the area's younger and Native artists. "We see the lack of affordable spaces in Santa Fe as the biggest threat to sustaining a diverse cultural environment," the organization's website claims. In 2017, Boyd had several productive meetings with the organizers of Chashama, a similarly-minded organization based in New York City founded by actress Anita Durst that has secured over one million square feet for local artists. Since moving into a downtown property in Santa Fe in March of last year and establishing a midtown exhibition space shortly thereafter, Vital Spaces has made a significant presence within the local art community in a remarkably short amount of time. But its biggest breakthrough came this month after signing the lease to the campus of the former Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and the College of Santa Fe. The 64-acre campus, which includes a series of interconnected buildings designed by famed Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta, has been sitting empty since May 2018, following the university's closure. This gave Boyd time to consider how the campus could become Vital Spaces' most significant contribution to the local art scene yet. Currently, the organization has plans to use the campus in-part to one day provide four- to-six art studio spaces and a large exhibition area, with the hopes of bringing in other organizations to curate shows and propose a wide range of uses for the site. Until the campus project is finalized, however, Vital Spaces will continue to focus its energy on the city's smaller vacant properties, starting this Fall with the use of vacant storefronts throughout downtown Santa Fe as displays for the work of local artists. "When we give artists space," reads Vital Spaces' mission statement, "we breathe life into our communities with innovative artistic programming that inspires Santa Feans of all ages and backgrounds; we bring economic vitality to those communities; we raise Santa Fe’s profile on the national art stage."
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It's a Gas

London developer could turn Victorian gasholder into an alligator farm
As South East London's Old Kent Road area undergoes a massive redevelopment, several ideas have been tossed around regarding what to do with its centerpiece, a towering gasholder remaining from the Victorian era. Followers of the project have snapped to attention in light of the latest announcement: Developer Avanton is recruiting architects to sink their teeth into designing London’s first alligator farm. Maccreanor Lavington, Patel Taylor, and Farrells are the firms working with Avanton to explore the feasibility of the project, according to a report byBuilding Design. Avanton’s project information describes the park is the “green heart” of the larger Ruby Triangle, Avanton’s extensive mixed-use development of the Old Kent Road area in South East London. The result will be five new buildings with a total of 1,152 residential units, as well as commercial space and a community sports and recreation center. The gasholder stands at the center of the park zone, and while it has been defunct for more than ten years, Avanton plans to keep the 160-foot metal skeleton as a tribute to the heyday of the Old Kent Road gasworks industry in the mid-19th century. The frame would be outfitted with glass and essentially converted into a circular conservatory with a 65-foot-deep water feature. This type of enclosure would allow the park, along with its accompanying educational facility and visitor’s center, to remain open to visitors year-round. While the alligator farm is just one of at least three distinct park concepts for the area, it has understandably caught the attention of many who wonder what a public space of this nature might look like. In a statement to Londonist, Katheryn Wise of World Animal Protection expressed concern:
“Not only is the busy and noisy environment of a property on the Old Kent Road no place for a wild animal, the transportation and handling of these alligators is likely to cause them unnecessary stress, fear and anxiety. Wild animal exploitation to boost the profits of a property developer is the wrong message to be sending and we are urging the company to rethink their decision.”
Alligators require warm, humid climates not just to survive, but also to reproduce and feel at ease within their habitat. In a press statement, Avanton claimed that it treats all environmental and ethical implications seriously, and the project will not move forward without consulting the appropriate experts. All of the park concepts are currently under discussion with Southwark Borough Council, and commentary will soon open up to a public forum.
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West by Northwest: Oregon Ways

The mythologies of Oregon’s utopian seekers still informs its design and architecture today

A few months back, while casually scrolling through some feed or another, I was struck by a series of images for a Portland-based boot company, Danner. Kicking up a faint cloud of dust with measured, deliberate steps, a lone photovoltaic maintenance worker moves across the image between parallel sets of solar trackers in a 64-acre facility in the high desert landscape just outside of Bend, Oregon. Emblazoned in bold over the image, the word “STRONGHOLD” conjured the work-boot family and the attitude of the region from which it springs. In what could pass for a Green New Deal campaign lifted from only the most heroic of WPA posters, other images from the commercial shoot evoke the photovoltaic maintenance process—a delicate operation involving technical expertise, careful stewardship, the right boots “built for comfort and stability,” and a Dodge Ram with plates reading “1932,” Danner’s date of establishment prior to relocating to Portland, where it would supply loggers with caulked boots during the Depression. From those origins spring the current slate of boot categories: work, hike, lifestyle, hunt, military, and law enforcement, producing an uneasy space where aesthetic cohesion and mythologizing coagulate in an open wound of mixed messaging between bright green and militarized versions of the future. The Danner website declares: “The Future Is Strong.”

Scenes like the above are a renewable resource in the Pacific Northwest, underwritten by a low-key utopian sense that’s as much about a “way” of doing things as it is about place. Oregon is of the American West, but not exactly the center of its mythos. In the estimation of the 1940 Federal Writers’ Project guide to the state, Oregon’s position at the “end of the trail” leveraged terminus into an exceptional charge that “inspire[d] not provincial patriotism, but affection”: “The newcomer at first may smile at the attitude of Oregonians towards their scenery and their climate. But soon he will begin to refer to Mt. Hood as ‘our mountain.’” Here, the “dismal skies” and rains of winter were merely the “annual tax” one paid for the privilege of inhabiting a state of “eternal verdure”—a cozy picture that excludes the desert land east of the Cascades mountain range and a whole host of volcanic and seismic activity lying in wait and prone to violent outbursts.

For its part, the city of Bend has recently been deemed a commuter town for Silicon Valley and is an increasingly expensive playground where brewpubs, rec centers, inner tube flotillas on the Deschutes River, and extensive parkland make their own kind of lively stronghold at the base of the Three Sisters Mountains. As in Portland just on the other side of the Cascades, there’s a rolling collision between earlier imported and newly imported visions of an affluent good life in nature that are just complementary enough to exist in tenuous détente while other narratives vie for recognition.

Upon arriving in Portland by way of a westward drive through the Columbia River Gorge, it was hard for me to escape the impression that this working landscape had been staged as an advertisement for the achievement of a kind of augmented reality just removed from the usual roiling of time. The B Reactor at Hanford, Washington, and the still-toxic ghosts of the Manhattan Project were out there somewhere, as was a Lamb Weston facility that processes 600 million pounds of frozen potato products annually, but here in this gash through the Cascades was a vision of forward movement in balance. Flanked by wind turbines running along the hill crests and with Hood’s emblematic peak directly ahead, rail and moss-lined roadways delivered a parade of works and features, from dams, locks, and spillways to waterfalls and elevated viewpoints. Some of these projects, like the Bonneville Dam, have been held up as pivotal but imperfect New Deal–era models of public hydropower administration, while The Dalles Dam is known more for its erasure of Celilo Falls, once a critical center of indigenous cultural and economic life. Such erasure and fragmentation, however, are far from the exception, as white nationalists have also long found refuge in Cascadia’s crevices and realty boards since the state’s founding in black exclusion. Here, too, the American Redoubt and various Cascadian secession movements pick up where Ernest Callenbach’s more countercultural 1975 novel Ecotopia left off with utopian search/seeking, be it for an ecotopia or a white nationalist stronghold.

As a perverse addendum to the theme of exclusion, however, Oregon’s urban growth boundaries have made for a compelling regional planning model, containing sprawl to preserve the "natural" playground and its biodiversity. In all things a kind of balance. Runaway utopian-as-utilitarian dreaming was, after all, the villain of California-born author Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1971 novel, The Lathe of Heaven, a fable of Portland’s exceptionalist attitude and the relative wealth of its natural inheritance. In this corner of the country, there was the possibility, for some, of a more comfortable—or less uncomfortable—future. Still, the novel’s status as a critique of progress or a privileged and resigned version of the same remains difficult to discern.

Storied weirdness aside, Portland is one of several metropolitan centers with the self-designation, “the city that works.” And it does, though critiques of the “sustainable city” are rolling in from those willing to cast a more critical eye toward the externalities and displacements produced through progress of this sort. Persistent NIMBY-ism and the ongoing battle over a proposed I-5 expansion amid new reports that Portland’s carbon emissions reduction progress has flatlined since 2012 suggest that the city’s climate policies are still far from where they need to be. On a more positive note, Oregon HB 2001’s move to effectively dissolve single-family zoning was the kind of course correction one would come to expect in the wake of new evidence of housing need. As with other improvements over its history—UGBs, public ownership of the coast, mass timber innovation by firms like LEVER and Hacker, ecodistricts, hydropower, cycling culture, and transit-oriented development—in paving the way for a proliferation of duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, Oregon again models a quietly progressive version of a future.

Exemplary care-oriented building projects also come to mind, like the Seven Corners Collaborative in Southeast Portland, where Waterleaf designed a new, fully accessible colocation center for local nonprofits that provide support services for people with disabilities, along with an assistive technology lab for training, consultation, and public interface. Elsewhere, in the Lents neighborhood, a shelter in the repurposed shell of an old church forms the heart of a new “family village” campus by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design, Carleton Hart Architecture, and Corlett Landscape Architecture that’s furthering the use of trauma-informed design and concentrated service delivery for families experiencing homelessness. Also in Lents, the new Asian Health & Service Center by Holst provides a venue not only for much-needed affordable healthcare services for the area, but also a well-appointed infrastructure for community social events, all granted a generous view of Mt. Hood from the top floor. SCOTT | EDWARDS ARCHITECTURE’s Portland Mercado fulfills a similar social function for Portland’s Latinx community through a modest adaptive reuse and landscape strategy that ties an existing structure together with a series of food carts, covered outdoor space, and copious seating. Led in part by the efforts of the latter two firms along with Ankrom Moisan and organizations such as Home Forward and Central City Concern, recent supportive housing projects in the city, such as Bud Clark Commons, the Beech Street Apartments, Garlington Place, and the Blackburn Center, are also demonstrating how architecture can operate and innovate through a lens of care and playfulness rather than singular virtuosity or brute force.

This ethos also comes out in Portland’s new and renovated green spaces, such as the collaboration by 2.ink Studio and Skylab on Luuwit View Park in East Portland. The park stands as a microcosm of the city’s celebrated urban landscape innovations, complete with community gardens, dog park, skate park, event shelter, public art, stormwater treatment area, and bilingual signage to acknowledge and accommodate the diversity of new residents in the neighborhood, as well as trails aligned with distant landmarks like Mt. St. Helens, or “Luuwit,” as named in the Cowlitz language. Likewise, with Cully Park in Northeast Portland, 2.ink explored similar design elements on the site of a former landfill in an underserved neighborhood, including significant habitat restoration, a fitness course, and the city’s first Native gathering garden. Developed by the community nonprofit Verde in partnership with the city, the project engaged neighborhood residents throughout the process with outreach, employment, and education programs. 

More broadly, a host of design and planning-based initiatives work to translate reparative sociopolitical agendas into spatial terms, such as the Portland African American Leadership Forum’s 2017 People’s Plan and the more recent Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability publication on the Historical Context of Racist Planning in the city. Blocking pipeline projects and filling streets in the name of climate action, Sunrise, XR, and 350PDX also stake active claims on the city and its future, while newly constructed works like FLOAT’s Portals in Southern Oregon stage direct action pipeline resistance, countering fossil fuel extraction logics with an expansive meditation on architecture’s capacity to support multispecies reciprocity. Further, initiatives and organizations throughout the region like Columbia Riverkeeper, Sightline, Wisdom of the Elders, the High Desert Partnership, and the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project engage in environmental care and land management through advocacy and cross-scalar collaborations, while efforts by the Friends of Trees and the city’s Green Street Steward Program involve volunteers in urban greening and bioswale maintenance. On the academic front, Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design was founded in 2013 to respond to the needs of underserved communities in the city and abroad and has since paired design-build work with robust community engagement processes, while the University of Oregon has launched a multidisciplinary fellowship initiative in Design for Spatial Justice, which mobilizes theory and practice in foregrounding narratives, experiences, and modes of design, political action, and biodiversity conservation long marginalized or excluded by fields responsible for the built environment.

How this expanding constellation of projects and practices might fare in an escalating climate struggle is a crucial question. With even cursory estimates of climate-induced in-migration to the region due to sea level rise alone projecting numbers in the hundreds of thousands over the next few decades, the challenge for utopia would initially seem to be one of scale. The war footing rhetoric of the GND, like that of the New Deal before it, anticipates such scales of action in the work of justice and infrastructural investment. A war footing for scaling care, however, is perhaps a more fraught and paradoxical charge, particularly as the goal would be to move beyond a narrow definition of relief as an improvised response toward the construction of more durable and equitable systems merging care with justice.

In a dysfunctional climate regime, what does it mean to position oneself as a stronghold or a refuge, or a model city? When PG&E issued its now-infamous directive to its California customers to “use your own resources to relocate” when the utility company unilaterally shut off power to nearly a million people back in October, it signaled that climate change survival would become a matter of self-reliance if left in the hands of those with no obligation for care. Against this backdrop, even a modicum of external accountability would come to appear as care and competency. As Holly Jean Buck writes, “There are plenty of scenarios where we deal with climate change in a middling way that preserves the existing unequal arrangements…[where] even muddling through looks like an amazing social feat, an orchestration so elaborate and requiring so much luck that people may find it a fantastic utopian dream.” In a global theater of sociopolitical and ecological degradation, it becomes difficult to assess the utopian potential of projects that work well within familiar registers, leading in some cases to a privileging of expediency and the reenactment of functioning models. 

But, even with the relative risk aversion, what bridges the perceived cultural gulf between the measured and occasionally errant strands of progressivism in the Pacific Northwest and the most fanciful Silicon Valley fever dreams is the recurring belief in some level of remove as a precondition for positive transformation and mastery. The right person in the right boots in the right geography, and a comfortable future is assured. The inclusion of photovoltaics in that picture is a welcome addition, but what is the future of an image like this in a present where what’s demanded is both a dissolution of the concept of human mastery over the environment and a dramatic mobilization, reorientation, and upscaling of progressive instruments closely aligned with the tools, attitudes, and systems that delivered the environment to the brink of collapse in the first place? Its violence veiled as much as romanticized, the story of a pioneer harnessing the productive power of a landscape was one promise of “the West.” As many of Oregon’s latest projects begin to suggest, there are and should be others, and the next steps are critical in defining the kind of refuge the region will become.

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Brothers to Brothers

Downtown L.A.'s Barker Brothers building to be restored to former glory
You may not find much to look at if you venture to the middle of Broadway between 7th and 8th Streets in Downtown Los Angeles' Historic Core. A barricade and opaque scaffolding currently block the tired remains of the Barker Brothers building, an eight-story structure built by real estate investor Clara Burdette in 1909 and one of the oldest of its kind in the district. Though it was the largest store in the Barker Brothers furniture chain at the time of its completion, the company shut its doors in the 1940s like many nearby retailers who migrated from downtown to the burgeoning Wilshire Boulevard. Thanks to brothers Ted and Oliver Grebelius of British real estate firm Satila Studios, the Barker is returning to its former glory over 80 years later. The duo recently bought the building with a plan to retrofit it as a mixed-use development and rebrand it as the Barker once again. The roughly-46,000 square feet of space constituting the upper six floors of the structure will be designated for commercial offices, while the 11,000-square-foot ground floor will be entirely dedicated to street-facing retail. The original floor plates have determined the number and ceiling heights of the floor plates, meaning the majority of the office spaces will likely be over 12 feet tall and supported by the building's existing structural columns. A significant amount of the retrofit will include the preservation of the building's original detailing and material palette of brick, steel, and dark wood flooring. Satila Studios is particularly invested in the preservation of its iconic grand stairway, including its large-scale archways and wooden columns, located in the center of the ground floor. The Barker is just one of many early-20th-century buildings in the L.A.'s Historic Core that are undergoing renovation. The adaptive reuse of the Lane Mortgage Building, a 12-story structure designed in 1923 by local architect Lester Loy Smith, is already underway half a block from The Barker. Satila Studios expects the building will open by 2021.